Iran attacked at least two Iraqi bases on Wednesday morning local time, where US forces are stationed, Iranian and U.S. officials said.
It launched ballistic missiles on its first platoon against the U.S. since President Donald Trump ordered an American drone attack to kill Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, dramatically escalating tensions between the two countries. The offensive did not cause any losses to American and Iraqi troops, AP reported on Wednesday.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – the branch of the country's military in which Soleimani served – led the attack Iranian and American media.
"The brave soldiers of the IRGC's aerospace division launched a successful attack on the Al Assad military base with ten ballistic missiles on behalf of the martyr Gen." [Qassem] Soleimani, ”says a statement from the IRGC sent to New York Times reporter Farnaz Fassihi.
The Iranians were targeting Al-Asad Air Force Base and a base in Erbil in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement sent to journalists by email.
"We're working on initial combat damage assessments," added Hoffman. "As we assess the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners and allies in the region."
Trump was watching the situation, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said,
Tehran fired 15 missiles, four of which failed to fly, a Los Angeles Times defender said. The US radar detected those who were fired on al-Asad, which meant that soldiers were able to find cover there.
More than 5,000 American troops are in Iraq to combat the Islamic State they have described. The country has a long border with Iran, and Tehran has wide influence there through a network of allied militias and politicians. The assassination of Soleimani made an Iranian reaction inevitable and put US citizens and interests at risk, the Trump administration and analysts said. US and Iraqi officials announced this week that they are preparing to withdraw US forces from Iraq – a perspective that is one of Iran's key goals and a blessing for ISIS as it tries to re-establish itself to organize.
How the Wednesday attack affects the chances of a further confrontation between the United States and Iran is not immediately clear.
Both Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif did not appear to be pushing for an immediate escalation.
"Everything is good! Missiles have been fired from Iran at two military bases in Iraq. Victims and damage are now being assessed. So far, so good!" Trump tweeted Tuesday evening. “We have by far the strongest and best equipped military in the world! I will make a statement tomorrow morning. "
Zarif described the rocket attacks on Tuesday as "appropriate measures for self-defense". Iran "does not seek to escalate the war, but will defend us against any aggression". he wrote on twitter,
“This can be a big deal, or it can be a symbolic way to get some of them on the way [initial] Retaliatory strikes that are easy to carry out without much harm, ”said Ilan Goldenberg, a former US State Department of Defense officer at the Center for a New American Security. wrote on twitter. "We have to wait and see."
The IRGC said it intends to take revenge on the US allies if they allow further American attacks on Iran from their country, Fassihi reported, This is a worrying perspective for a number of nations, including Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and even Turkey. Regional officials, including Iran's top competitor Saudi Arabia, have loudly stated that they are calling for relief from tensions and are not looking for an open and comprehensive conflict.
Legislators have also urged reluctance and plan to soon consider laws that they hope will limit Trump's ability to attack Iran.
In addition to the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq, there are more than 50,000 other U.S. personnel in parts of the Middle East within Iranian reach, and up to 13,000 in neighboring Afghanistan, where Soleimani's successor has been with the Iranian military for years. There are also tens of thousands of American diplomats and private individuals.
Far more members of the Iraqi military work in the facilities that house Americans. Wednesday's attacks killed some Iraqis. CNN reported,
The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request from HuffPost for comments.
This article has been updated with comments from Trump and the Iranian Foreign Minister.
Jessica Schulberg contributed to this article.
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